What is a Spiritual Wound?

June 21, 2018

Since I posted about the research work that we are doing with Army I've had a number of questions asking "what is a spiritual wound?" So....

A spiritual injury or wound tears at spiritual tissue in the same way that a physical injury destroys bodily tissue. Our initial research has indicated that a spiritual wound can occur by being a, witness, participant or victim. Obviously, this is closely related but not quite the same as Moral Injury. The work by Litz and others on moral injury is profound and brings the spiritual aspects of the member’s experience into a broader and complementary treatment context along with a range of important moral, psychological, medical and cultural issues.


While there is no suggestion that the treatment of spiritual injury should take any primacy or be conducted in isolation, spirituality is a uniquely different proposition. Questions such as ‘Does God still love me?’ in relation to a soldier’s actions or circumstances are purely faith and belief based and indicate a rupture in the relationship that soldier has with his or her concept of God or a higher being/creator.  As such, one approach might be to consider the syllogism that moral injury is to reason as spiritual injury is to faith.  As properly trained and accredited medical and psychological practitioners are required to deliver such treatment in their space, so too will there be a requirement for the involvement of properly trained and accredited religious practitioners to work with spiritual wounds.

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